WCC Update for 13 October 2009

Friends and Neighbours,

Much has happened.

Many thanks to the hundreds of you who took part in the Human Train event three weeks ago. It was a rousing success. Many walked the entire route from Weston, to Mount Dennis, to the Junction, to the Wallace Bridge, to Sorauren Park, and finally to Trinity Bellwoods. It made lots of press, and got the attention of the important folks at Queen’s Park, we hope.

While that was going on, Metrolinx was sending two leaflets to what we think was over 100,000 homes along the corridor. Those leaflets suggested that the Medical Officer of Health had reversed his opinion on the trains (not true) and that your health would be protected by Metrolinx’s plan (also not true). We are puzzled as to the extremely large expenditures of public money on these leaflets when the public comment period was long over. So we have formally complained to the Ombudsman of Ontario, André Marin. We are concerned with both the misleading content of the leaflets, and the fact that they were distributed at all, when they could not have any influence on the decision of the minister.

Finally we got the decision of the minister. He approved Metrolinx’s overall plan, with some conditions. Of course the most widely reported feature of his decision was the condition that they use only Tier 4 diesel engines. We have some concerns about that decision, mostly that it means spending scarce tax dollars on as yet unbuilt, more expensive technology, when the plan is to electrify the corridor shortly thereafter. But today we learned the most startling thing about his decision. He apparently didn’t mean to say ALL the trains in the corridor (though he did, and in writing, to us). Instead, only about 1/3 of the GO trains will be forced to be Tier 4. Apparently his decision only applies to the trains to Brampton and Georgetown, and the 200 odd trains going to Bradford and Milton are exempted. We will be consulting with our partners in the Clean Train Coalition about what to do next.

The minister did not ignore Weston. He said “I have also reminded Metrolinx of its requirement to meet the commitments set out in its Environmental Project Report, including maintaining a train stop in Weston, implementing the tunneled portion of the rail way between Church Street and King Street and maintaining existing accessibility to Church Street and King Street in Weston.” However, that statement is not in the ‘conditions’ only in his letter. So it remains to be seen how that will play out.

Once again, many thanks to those of you who have helped out. The fight’s not over.

Mike Sullivan
Weston Community Coalition